AUDIT THIS! by Anne Kane
When he accompanies her to a writers' festival, things heat up in a hurry. Neither of them is being entirely honest, and as the weekend progresses so does the hilariously tangled webs of deceit as each of them seeks to further their own agenda.
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Copyright ©2013 Anne Kane
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"What do you mean you're disallowing ninety percent of the expenses I claimed?" Khloe tried not to scream at the smug smile on the auditor's face. Hard to believe her libido had jumped to attention when he'd first showed up at her door. Just went to show how bad a judge of character she was. "You can't do that. They are all legitimate business deductions."
"Really?" The man raised one of those perfect brows. "Care to explain how a trip to Spain qualifies as a business expense? You're a writer. You don't have to leave the house. You don't even have to get dressed."
Khloe gritted her teeth, taking a deep breath to calm herself down before she answered. She knew his name. Nicholas Carver. She just didn't think a government auditor deserved such an impressive name. Calling him a dumb-assed bean counter probably wouldn't help her situation, though.
"Although I have not claimed any clothing expenses, I assure you I do have to get dressed. My neighbours are a conservative bunch. I do have to leave the house occasionally, and I generally make a point of putting some clothes on before I do. That trip was for research." Well, duh, what else would it be? Maybe this guy got all the looks and none of the brains. "My last mystery novel was set in Madrid during the running of the bulls. I needed to be there to get the feel of the place and understand the atmosphere, how the crowd reacted. I wouldn't stay in business long if I didn't pay attention to the little details. Readers can smell a mistake a mile away, and if I lose their trust I'll be working at the grocery store for a fraction of what I make writing."
The auditor snorted. "Quite the drama queen, aren't you? I might accept the research excuse if the tone came through in your work, assuming we're talking about a published manuscript. Do you have a copy of that alleged book?"
The sceptical tone of his voice, not to mention his use of the word "alleged," set Khloe's teeth on edge. How dare he sit there in his perfectly pressed suit and make her justify every item on her tax return? Oh right. He was the almighty tax department auditor! Maybe it would help if she curtseyed or kissed his ring or something.
She smiled sweetly. "Of course." Turning, she ran her fingers along the spines of the books on the shelf. Plucking Bullfighter's Downfall out, she handed it to him. It took quite some effort to keep her smile from turning into a snarl. "I hope you enjoy it. It spent two months on the New York Times Best Sellers list."
He took the book, his brows rising at the cover picturing a couple in a passionate embrace against a backdrop of the famous bull run. Turning the book over, he read the back cover before looking up at her. "Romantic suspense? You're one of those kinds of authors?"
Okay, he might be the big-shot auditor, and he had the ability to make her life, not to mention her finances, a living hell, but he had no right to use that tone of voice when describing the genre she loved.
"Exactly what do you mean by that?" She straightened up to her full five feet five inches and glared down at him. "If you mean one of those authors who can take two characters, introduce them to each other and make them fall passionately and fervently in love while they dodge bullets, murder, mayhem and other nasty plot points, then yes. I'm one of these kinds of authors. And in case you don't believe me, you might want to ask the thousands of readers whose buying habits have put me on the New York Times Best Sellers list time and again."
"No need to get defensive. It's hardly War and Peace but I'm sure it's a very nice story."
It took all of her willpower not to grab the heaviest book on the shelf and smack him over the head with it. War and Peace indeed! "Have you ever tried to read War and Peace?" She took a step forward, gratified at his flinch. "My books are meant to entertain people and take them away from their everyday lives, not bore them to death."
He had the grace to look uncomfortable. "Well, no, I haven't actually read it. I'm more of a John Grisham fan. Lots of war but not much peace."
She felt the tension in her gut relaxing a bit. He wasn't quite the pretentious prig he looked like. Actually, if she took an honest look at him, he resembled the cover models for some of her steamier books.
And that gave her an idea.
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